The lesson gives background to the WWI Battle of the Somme between the British and German armies through a powerpoint. It then asks students to analyze three primary source documents from both sides of the battle to act as evidence in answering an historical question: Who won the first day (of the battle)? Student then write a short argument based on their understanding of the texts.
This unit focuses on aspects of argumentation
involving evidence, reasoning, and logic, rather
than on persuasive writing and speaking. Students are first expected to understand objectively a
complex issue through exploratory inquiry and
close reading of information on the topic, then
study multiple perspectives on the issue before
they establish their own position. From their
reading and research, they are asked to craft an
argumentative plan that explains and supports
their position, acknowledges the perspectives and
positions of others, and uses evidence gleaned
through close reading and analysis to support
When students write argumentative or persuasive essays, they often ignore the viewpoints of their opponents, the potential readers of their essays. In this minilesson, students respond to a hypothetical situation by writing about their position on the subject. After sharing their thoughts with the class, students consider the opposite point of view and write about arguments for that position. They then compare their position with that of their potential audience, looking for areas of overlap. They then revise their arguments, with the audience's point of view and areas of commonality in mind. Examining the opposing view allows students to better decide how to counter their opponent logically, perhaps finding common ground from which their arguments might grow. Thus, the activity becomes a lesson not only in choosing arguments but also in anticipating audience reaction and adapting to it.
This lesson gives background to the rise of the National-Socialist German Workers' Party Party (Nazi Party) and in particular to their annexation of Austria through a powerpoint. It then asks students to analyze three primary source documents to act as evidence in answering an historical question: How did the Nazi party convince 99% of Germans to vote in favor of the annexation of Austria? Student then write a short argument based on their understanding of the texts and visuals.
Stanford History Education Group's lesson on Puritans provides students with a background lecture on the Puritans (one of the group's who settled the 13 British colonies). It then asks students, through reading two primary sources from the Puritans, to assess their motivations for settling in the Americas based on the historical question: Were the Puritans selfish or selfless (in their motivation)? This lesson asks students to engage in historical empathy and understand the purpose behind historical actions as historians would.
Zoom In provides 18 guided lessons on historical events where students focus on reading primary and secondary documents closely, gathering evidence, and writing an argumentative or explanatory essay. Throughout the process students are asked to do the following:
Read documents closely and criticallyIdentify author's point of view and purposeEngage in higher-order, text-based discussionsWrite explanatory and argumentative essays grounded in evidence